Belgium is one of the smallest countries in Europe, but it packs in a lot of beautiful historical cities, fine food, and rich culture. There’s a lot more to discover besides chocolate, French fries and waffles! Home to the European Union and NATO, Belgium has been influenced by the French, Dutch, Austrian, and Spanish, to make it a unique combination of cutting edge and traditional cultures. Your program will be in Wallonia in the south of Belgium, where most people speak French.

People and Community

Belgians tend to be tolerant, flexible, modest, and open-minded. They value privacy, enjoy a safe and comfortable life, work hard and are self-disciplined. Respect for each other is a core value and necessity. Many Belgians consider themselves Roman Catholic but are not very religious.  


Belgian cuisine is related to the French cuisine, but offers some very distinctive touches. Apart from good chocolate and hundreds of different types of beer, you can also enjoy waffles (wafelen), fries (pomme-frîtes), mussels, and carbonade flamande (beef stew). Belgians take their time to eat, so even with all these options you’ll have the chance to savour each new flavour! Most families consider eating together very important, especially at dinner. Vegetarianism is not very common, but can be accommodated, while vegans and those with gluten-free diets are more rare.

Climate and Geography

The Belgian climate is temperate, with mild winters and cool summers. Belgium is also a pretty flat country, with its highest peak at only 694m. With its location in Western Europe and great public transport options, day trips to main cities in Belgium or even other countries like France, Germany, the Netherlands and Luxembourg are easy from wherever you might be staying!


Belgium school

School in French Belgium is quite demanding – teachers are hard to impress and students spend a lot of time studying 10 to 18 different subjects! School starts between 8 and 8.30am and finishes between 4 and 5pm, with breaks for lunch and snacks. Class groups usually stay together in the same classroom, and the teachers come to you. You will be placed in one of four types of public school according to your preference and skills. General is academic-focused; Vocational combines general education with practice-oriented training for a specific occupation; Arts combines general education with active practice of art; and Technical focuses on general and technical subjects. Arts and Technical are usually best for AFS students!


There is no typical Belgian family; your Belgian host family can be a married or unmarried couple, with kids of your age or not, a retired couple, a single mother, etc. Most likely, you’ll find that your Belgian host family is different from your own, both in composition and in their way of life.

Dinner time is a very important family gathering in Belgium, and is an opportunity to share your day, discuss problems, and share feelings. Belgians are kind, fun-loving, and direct in their communication – everyone says what they think. It is usual in Belgian families to talk about oneself and ask for advice.

Life in your host family will be more formal than you might expect! For example, family members will say hello/goodbye to every person in the family when they arrive home, leave the house, or go to bed. Belgian parents are also used to monitoring their child’s social life and school results, and teens are often required to ask permission to go out and to say where they are going, with whom and to respect a curfew.


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